Monday, September 19, 2011

Love and More Love

"Christ's final judgement...does not discriminate between those who need love and those who invite condemnation; it only adjudicates between those who need love and those who need more love."
(Andrew Klager, "Orthodox Eschatology and St. Gregory's [Life of Moses]" in Compassionate Eschatology: The Future as Friend published by Cascade Books.

When I read the above line out loud to my wife, she stopped what she was doing and said, "Ahhh."  The kind of "Ahhh" that means, "Yes! That's the God I know in my heart."

Andrew's article is a little tough to work through--he is writing for scholars, after all; but if you get a chance to read it, it is worth the time to work through it slowly.  Use a dictionary if you need one (I always do).  The vision of heaven, hell and judgement are so Orthodox, so different from what we as a western culture are used to think, that I think you too will say "Ahhh" at several points.

Andrew does not (nor does the Church for that matter) say that there is no hell.  He doesn't say that there is no judgement or no condemnation.  What Andrew does is help us understand the Orthodox teaching that heaven and hell are not separate places, but they are possibilities of our human experience of the Love of God.  God's Love is the Consuming Fire.  But what is consumed is only the chaff (our sin, our delusions our vanity) and those who suffer are only those who cling to their sin, their delusions, their vanity.

Of course I cannot unpack in just a few paragraphs what Andrew lays out so well in a twenty-three page article.  Let me just repeat that it is worth reading--but get a good dictionary and take your time.


Father John said...

Dear Father Michael,

You always intrigue me with your articles, and references to other works. Would Andrew Klager's work be similar to the argument put forth by Alexander Kalomiros in The River of Fire?

Fr. John

Barbara said...

Andrew's article is definitely worth the time and work - even for a very new layperson like myself. He references many of my favourite orthodox theologians/writers - Fr. Andrew Louth, Fr. Schemmann, Paul Evdokimov, Bishop name just a few. I found the article to be a very helpful summary of the orthodox understanding of eschatology.

Fr. John, I know your question wasn't to me, but having read both, I would say that the argument is similar, but the tone is quite different because it is published in both a scholarly and ecumenical context. Andrew's article is one I wouldn't hesitate to share.